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No. 20 Penn State Men’s Soccer Drops Heartbreaker To Michigan State 1-0

No. 20 Penn State men’s soccer (2-1) lost its first match of the season to Michigan State (1-2) in Holuba Hall Saturday afternoon.

The Nittany Lions controlled much of the second half, but an 87th minute Jack Beck goal was enough to undo Jeff Cook’s team right at the death.

How It Happened

Michigan State had the best chances of the first half, and sure enough it was the Spartans getting the first look on goal in the second minute. Farai Mutatu was fed in a cross from close range, but the striker couldn’t poke it past Owen Elliot.

The Nittany Lions struggled to find a clean look at goal in the early going. Their best chance of the first 20 minutes was a Liam Butts deflected strike from the top of the box.

Influential left back Jalen Watson had to leave the pitch in the 14th minute with an apparent leg injury. His replacement Tyger Evans did his job, although the freshman doesn’t contribute the offensive threat that Watson has.

Vedad Kovac began to find chinks in the Nittany Lion armor around the half-hour mark. The left winger exposed Alex Stevenson and lofted a ball just past a wide-open Alex Shterenberg, before feeding Mutatu in two minutes later. In both cases, Penn State’s staunch defending held the visitors scoreless.

Penn State came out of the locker room looking like a reinvigorated squad. Junior transfer Danny Bloyou hit the post from outside of the box just over five minutes into the half, and the Nittany Lions added a pair of corner kicks in the early going.

Stevenson went down with a knock shortly after. Following Watson and Adam Laundree’s injuries, Brandon Hackenberg was the only starter from the Penn State backline to go the whole game uninjured.

The injuries kept coming for Jeff Cook’s team, and in the 58th minute, midfielder Callum Pritchatt went down after chasing a Spartan counterattack. If there was any silver lining, Stevenson returned to the field for the Nittany Lions.

The game got chippy from there. Danny Bloyou was given a questionable yellow card for simulation on a fast break to start to increase the already heated temperature. Then, Penn State had a goal disallowed due to a foul in the box, and Hackenberg received a yellow of his own for defending Liam Butts in a quick conference with the referee.

Despite the extracurriculars, the Nittany Lions continued to threaten. Penn State found a lot of freedom on the right side, which Seth Kuhn, Reedy, and Stevenson all took advantage of.

The Spartans had their breakthrough with just three minutes to play. The ball was loose in the box, and Jack Beck capitalized from six yards out. The Nittany Lions had a few chances to equalize in the dying moments, but Damon Rensing’s side left State College with the upset.

Man Of The Match

Danny Bloyou| Sophomore |Striker

Penn State may not have scored in this one, but substitute striker Danny Bloyou made things difficult for the Michigan State backline. The Ghanaian’s speed was just what the doctor ordered for the Nittany Lions, and will be key going forward.

What’s Next

Penn State begins a two-match road trip on Wednesday, March 3, against Michigan. Kickoff time is TBA, and the match will be streamed via BTN+.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He lives just north of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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